Mom’s China

I was chatting with two friends last week.  One of them attended a Valentine’s brunch at a friend’s house.  She was served brunch on Desert Rose dishes (first made in the 1940’s) and her friend posted a picture on Instagram.  That got us talking about fine china dishes.  We all have fine china in our homes that rarely sees the light of day. 

That got me thinking about fine china.  When I was growing up, every family I knew had everyday dishes and china for special occasions.  My parents didn’t entertain, but the ‘good dishes’ came out for holidays.  I got the ‘good dishes’ when my mom died.  Many of my friends are in the same boat – they have their parents and/or grandparents’ china (with maybe an aunt’s china thrown in for good measure). 

Some of my friends registered for fine china when they got married in the late 1970’s, but others were no longer interested.  (We eloped, so didn’t register for anything 😊).  

I had a great time this weekend collecting photos of my friends’ fine china – see today’s collage. Many thanks to NS, SW, MB, KJ, DP, JCM, MG, and JK for their contributions. My mom’s china is the top row middle picture.

Most of us have a much more casual lifestyle and use dishwasher/microwave safe ‘practical’ dishes, even for entertaining.  So fine china may have gone by the wayside – to cupboards and boxes. 

Multiple generations of china in one house (or, more specifically, basement) seems to be a common American condition

Adam Minter, 2019

Note: We have frequently dined at friends’ homes in Italy.  Fine china is always used.  Italians tend to entertain in their homes a bit more and the meals are more formal.

What about our children and grandchildren? 

It looks like 1/3 of Southern brides still register for fine china.  But I found an article that talks about how most millennials have a total lack of interest in fine china.  With everyone’s more casual lifestyle, I’m not sure how interested any of them will be in taking over our china storage boxes. No one wants to hand wash dishes these days! And in their defense, our children probably didn’t grow up seeing this china on the table for special occasions like I did.

So, what are we going to do with all this china?

In letting it go and knowing you don’t have control of it, you are releasing it to the universe, it served its purpose, it had its moment and meaning.”

Cecilia Jones

One suggestion is to keep a few favorite pieces and donate the rest.  I am not a hoarder, but I can’t bring myself to donate my mother’s dishes just yet.   I am now motivated to use them occasionally.  Fortunately, they aren’t packed away and are easy to retrieve.  And I certainly seem to have time to hand wash them these days!

And all this ‘anti-china dishes’ could be completely wrong! According to a recent article in the NYT: It’s a Fine Time for Fine China, there has been an increased interest in china, thanks to the pandemic. More people, including millennials, are eating at home and they want things a little nicer. (Thanks to JP for the article) So, who knows what the future is for fine china?! Yet another reason to hang onto my ‘good dishes’.

Happy Valentine’s Day – on that note, I’m going to have my tea in a fine china cup!



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